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The best way to eat your way through the commercial capital of China, one meal at a time over 24 hours. From xiaolongbao to decadent high teas, Shanghai is a gourmand’s paradise on the cutting edge of cool. There’s plenty to choose from and only so many hours in the day, so this is the best five ways to make use of a Shanghai day.
, Lin Long Fang
Being Shanghai’s most famous dish, there are countless places to witness the intricate art of crafting a soup dumpling, or xiaolongbao. The dish made headlines recently when American chef Christopher St Cavish went on a quest – armed with weighing scales and callipers – to assess these famous dumplings at 52 establishments across Shanghai.
Lin Long Fang, which was ranked among the top eateries for its flavour by St Cavish, is surprisingly still a relatively unheard of establishment, making it an ideal spot to savour the dish. Pair the eatery’s famous crab roe and salted egg yolk xiaolongbaos with a simple but delectable bowl of scallion oil noodles.
Table No. 1 by Jason Atherton
Nestled within Singaporean hotelier Loh Lik Peng’s industrial-chic Waterhouse Hotel in the hip Cool Docks area near the Bund, Table No. 1 is Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton’s first dining establishment in Shanghai.
The beauty of this place lies in its concise yet well-curated menus for dinner or weekend brunch that offers diners a selection of modern European fare in a cosy and relaxed setting. Every permutation of the well-loved Eggs Benedict, be it with beef tongue, smoked salmon or Wagyu brisket, is a delight, but be sure to order the avocado mash, a refreshing addition that adds another dimension to the meal. Other standouts include the steak and fried egg with roasted tomatoes and the French toast with orange marmalade.
, Waldorf Astoria
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to having high tea in Shanghai, but most would agree that this time-honoured establishment serves one of the best. Dining at the utterly charming Salon de Ville is an experience in itself. The space is immaculately adorned with ornate crown mouldings, plush red lounge chairs, crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors and beautiful oriental furnishings, all of which imbue the hall with an awe-inspiring regality.
High tea here is the priciest in the city, but guests would find it difficult to complain about the value they get. The scones and freshly made jams rank among the finest one would find in Shanghai, and then there is, of course, the legendary red velvet cake that does not disappoint.
Founded by French chef Paul Pairet in 2012, Ultraviolet is a revolutionary, ultra-exclusive single-table establishment which has just one seating per day for 10 guests. The restaurant does not accept walk-ins. Well, you can’t even if you wanted to – no one, besides Pairet and his staff, actually knows where this place is.
Upon a successful reservation, guests are instructed to gather at a designated spot before they are whisked away to an undisclosed location in an old Shanghai neighbourhood where the dining hall is located.
Decked out with state-of-the- art lighting and sound systems, projectors and scent diffusers, the space is transformed into a theatre where each of the 20 courses in a molecular gastronomy menu are paired with unique sights, sounds and smells in a multi-sensory culinary extravaganza.
Cocktails and Supper, Union Trading Company
Shanghai has no shortage of excellent cocktail bars, but what sets this one apart from the cream of the crop is its selection of barrel-aged blends, creative concoctions and finger food that is so delicious it would be sacrilegious to call them pub grub.
Helmed by the award-winning Yao Lu, a Houston-born American Chinese mixologist, this cosy and relaxed drinking hole provides a refreshing contrast to the growing number of speakeasys that have been popping up across Shanghai. Whisky lovers must try Dead Man’s Gun, a super-smooth blend of single malt whisky, honey, spices and citrus. For a late-night snack, order the gourmet fish fingers, Scotch eggs and the incredibly sinful Philly cheesesteak.